I'm confused about grease

Old 06-19-2023, 07:41 PM
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DLR
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Default I'm confused about grease

There are so many different ideas about what grease to use that I have become frozen. I am working on singer 66, 15-91, 99, 128, featherweight, I have put a lot of work into these machines and I don't want to use the wrong thing. Please help!
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Old 06-20-2023, 04:29 AM
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The only one of the machines you mention that I am familiar with is the 15-91. On the 15-91, the only place you use 'grease' is in the grease cups that lubricate the motor. They are those upside down things under the hand wheel. They are a pain to get to, so are easy to procrastinate.

I would assume that grease is used in very few places on the other machines, but have not owned those machines.

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Old 06-20-2023, 08:36 AM
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I think the OP was questioning what KIND of grease to use, not where? I'm also interested in the answer to this question, my hubby wants to use white lithium on everything but I'm not sure it's the best for sewing machines.
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Old 06-20-2023, 09:15 AM
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It really depends on the machine. I think some of the vintage motors took grease. Singer made a lubricant for motors and gears, however the have changed the formula for their lubricant. If you have the old Singer lubricant in the metal tube, you can use it for motors. There is a great deal of debate about if Vaseline Petroleum Jelly is okay to use in motors. Someone says that they have used PJ for 35 years with no ill effect. Those selling the new Sew-Retro or Nova's Motor Lubricant claim that it is like the old Singer and is safer for those motors that take lubricant.

Someone recently posted this about lithium grease - "It is a very good grease when it is fresh, but it sadly hardens after some time, especially in a machine that doesn't see frequent use. "

I have heard that there are some who have had to chip the hardened grease off vintage machines. Tri-Flow grease or the new Singer lubricant would be fine to work on the gears for vintage machines. On the newer machines, follow the manufacturer's recommendation for lubricant.

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Old 06-20-2023, 03:56 PM
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I purchase sewing machine grease from the FeatherweightShop.com because it's specially formulated for the vintage machines.
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Old 06-24-2023, 10:20 PM
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There is a fair bit of confusion that has been caused in this area. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts.

There are two completely different products that people call "grease" and that causes confusion.

First, grease is used on gears in sewing machines. Many sewing machines such as vintage Kenmore machines, Singer 206, 306 and 319 machines have gear boxes under their hook assemblies. On these machines, the gear boxes need to be filled with grease. On their 201 model, Singer recommended oil for the gears instead of grease. This is the only machine that I know of that Singer made that recommendation. Generally, machines that use cams or have zigzag capability have a couple of gears that need grease. Singer 15 models don't have gears and just need oil.

What grease to use? Generally in the vintage sewing machine world, people recommend Tri Flow Synthetic grease or SuperLube Synthetic grease. A well known and highly regarded repairman who posts on Youtube, Bob Fowler, recommends Aeroshell 7. The latter is a grease made for the aviation industry. Fowler has said he hates Tri Flow grease for sewing machines. He didn't explain this, he just said he doesn't like it and is rather vehement that it should not be used. I have no idea why he doesn't like TriFlow grease.

For what it's worth, I use SuperLube Synthetic grease. In their materials, SuperLube says that it's good for sewing machines. It works just fine for me and I quite like it.

I have read that Singer techs used to use Vaseline on the gears of Featherweights when nothing else was in stock in the shop. I don't know whether that's true.

How to use grease on sewing machines? A very light coating on the gears is all that's needed. Don't oil the gears and then put grease on. The grease will just fly off. Too much grease will just fly off. Gear boxes under the hooks of machines need to be filled with grease. How full? At least 3/4 or more.

The real confusion comes from discussions about what grease to use in sewing machine motors. On many vintage motors such as those found on a Singer 15-91 there were grease "cups" that had wool felt wicks in them. There are also wool felt wicks in the motors of the Singer 15-90 and wool felt pads at the ends of bushings into which the motor shaft rides..

Singer used to sell something they called Singer Lubricant for Electric Motors which they recommended for their motors. They advised to never use oil and to never use grease in their motors.

So what was SLEM? It was a lubricant that sort of looked like grease but really wasn't. SLEM had a melting point of something like 110 F. So when a wool motor wick was saturated with it, as the motor heated up, the SLEM melted and lubricated the shafts. Singer hasn't made SLEM in something like 50 years. and if you find a tube of it, remember, you've got a tube of 50 year old lubricant which may not have aged all that well. Speaking only for myself, I don't trust any lubricant that's 50 years old. But that's just me.

The Featherweight Shop makes a product that they call Sew Retro. It's a modern product which they say does what SLEM used to do. It melts and lubricates motors. If I had a Featherweight I would probably want to coddle it and I would probably buy Sew Retro from the Featherweight Shop. I would also probably get it out of its case once a month and polish it with wax and a soft cloth specially reserved for it. I might even sing a lullaby to it when I put it in its case. But that's just me.

Now we get to the whole petroleum jelly issue. At the time that Singer was selling SLEM, other manufacturers such as White recommended using petroleum jelly in their motors. A big jug of Vaseline that would last a family of 4 for a year was cheaper than a small tube of SLEM. And so there are people who think that SLEM was nothing more than Vaseline for which Singer charged lots of money. There are plenty of people who will tell you that Vaseline melts just fine and lubricates motors just fine. FWIW: I use it in my Singer 15 motor and from what I can see it works fine.

So there you have my two cents worth. Grease such as SuperLube Synthetic on all gears. Featherweight Shop Sew Retro lubricant or Vaseline for the motor.

As an aside, Kenmore used to recommend a tiny tiny drop of oil in their motors once every 6 months or so. That's what I do on my Kenmores.
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